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Air conditioning market saturation and long-term response of residential cooling energy demand to climate change


  • Sailor, D.J
  • Pavlova, A.A


Existing state-level models relating climate parameters to residential electricity consumption indicate a nominal sensitivity of 2–4% for each degree Celsius increase in ambient temperatures. Long-term climate change will also impact electricity consumption through corresponding increases in the market saturation of air conditioning. In this paper we use air conditioning market saturation data for 39 US cities to develop a generalized functional relationship between market saturation and cooling degree days. The slope of this saturation curve is particularly high for cities that currently have low to moderate saturation. As a result, the total response of per capita electricity consumption to long-term warming may be much higher than previously thought. A detailed analysis of 12 cities in four states shows that for some cities changes in market saturation may be two to three times more important than the role of weather sensitivity of current loads. While actual behavioral response to climate change will be more complicated than that captured in our model of market saturation, this approach provides a new perspective on the sensitivity of space conditioning electricity consumption in the US to climate change.

Suggested Citation

  • Sailor, D.J & Pavlova, A.A, 2003. "Air conditioning market saturation and long-term response of residential cooling energy demand to climate change," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 28(9), pages 941-951.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:energy:v:28:y:2003:i:9:p:941-951
    DOI: 10.1016/S0360-5442(03)00033-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sailor, David J, 2001. "Relating residential and commercial sector electricity loads to climate—evaluating state level sensitivities and vulnerabilities," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 26(7), pages 645-657.
    2. Sailor, David J. & Muñoz, J.Ricardo, 1997. "Sensitivity of electricity and natural gas consumption to climate in the U.S.A.—Methodology and results for eight states," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 22(10), pages 987-998.
    3. Considine, Timothy J., 2000. "The impacts of weather variations on energy demand and carbon emissions," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 295-314, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Isaac, Morna & van Vuuren, Detlef P., 2009. "Modeling global residential sector energy demand for heating and air conditioning in the context of climate change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 507-521, February.
    2. Casarin, Ariel A. & Delfino, Maria Eugenia, 2011. "Price freezes, durables, and residential electricity demand. Evidence from Greater Buenos Aires," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 859-869, September.
    3. Zhu, Dan & Tao, Shu & Wang, Rong & Shen, Huizhong & Huang, Ye & Shen, Guofeng & Wang, Bin & Li, Wei & Zhang, Yanyan & Chen, Han & Chen, Yuanchen & Liu, Junfeng & Li, Bengang & Wang, Xilong & Liu, Wenx, 2013. "Temporal and spatial trends of residential energy consumption and air pollutant emissions in China," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 17-24.
    4. Olonscheck, Mady & Holsten, Anne & Kropp, Jürgen P., 2011. "Heating and cooling energy demand and related emissions of the German residential building stock under climate change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 4795-4806, September.
    5. van Ackere, Ann & Ochoa, Patricia, 2010. "Managing a hydro-energy reservoir: A policy approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 7299-7311, November.
    6. Gupta, Eshita, 2012. "Global warming and electricity demand in the rapidly growing city of Delhi: A semi-parametric variable coefficient approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 1407-1421.
    7. Peacock, A.D. & Jenkins, D.P. & Kane, D., 2010. "Investigating the potential of overheating in UK dwellings as a consequence of extant climate change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3277-3288, July.
    8. Hekkenberg, M. & Benders, R.M.J. & Moll, H.C. & Schoot Uiterkamp, A.J.M., 2009. "Indications for a changing electricity demand pattern: The temperature dependence of electricity demand in the Netherlands," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 1542-1551, April.
    9. Mansur, Erin T. & Mendelsohn, Robert & Morrison, Wendy, 2008. "Climate change adaptation: A study of fuel choice and consumption in the US energy sector," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 175-193, March.

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